CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Chad Henne did his best Kirk Gibson impression, but it was Adrian Arrington that hit the game-winning home run at Illinois.
Wide receiver Arrington found Mario Manningham for an 11-yard touchdown pass after taking a handoff from Henne with 8:12 left to give the Wolverines a 27-17 win in a prime time thriller in front of a sea of orange-clad supporters at Illinois sold-out Memorial Stadium.
One possession before, Chad Henne re-entered the game for the second time after sitting out with an undisclosed injury to see if he could work his magic for the Wolverines.
The only word to describe Chad Henne is courageous, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said of his senior quarterback, who was 18-of-26 for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
He did something special in that stadium that any member of this team will never forget.
Was he healed? I don t think so. I think he played with a lot of discomfort.
The victory gave Michigan its sixth straight since opening the season 0-2 and kept Carr s perfect 5-0 record intact at Illinois.
Sophomore Carlos Brown started in place of Mike Hart, who was held out with a sprained ankle, and filled in admirably. He finished with 113 rushing yards on 25 carries.
I really didn t know if Mike was going to go or not, Brown said. The coaches prepared us all week that Mike wouldn t play, so I was ready.
Illinois scored just 56 seconds into the game on a 26-yard pass from Juice Williams to Jacob Willis. Vontae Davis returned the opening kickoff 63 yards to the Michigan 33, and two plays later, the Illini were up 7-0.
After Henne threw an interception on Michigan s first drive, it didn t get much better as the Wolverines went three and out and lost Henne for the remainder of the quarter after he was sacked on third down.
Henne returned after one possession off and promptly led the Wolverines on a pair of scoring drives stretching 80 and 81 yards. Henne s second touchdown toss came with 45 seconds left in the second quarter toArrington from 14 yards and gave Michigan (6-2, 4-0) a 17-14 lead at halftime.
The Wolverines go-ahead score was initially ruled incomplete, but an official review after Carr s challenge clearly showed Arrington dragging his right foot in the back corner of the end zone.
Shortly following the score, Henne headed to the locker room once again, and sure enough, Ryan Mallett was under center to start the second half, again without great results.
Mallett looked much more comfortable in his second series of the half, slowly and methodically leading the Wolverines into Illini territory. Seven plays into the drive, though, the freshman s inexperience reared its head again as he fumbled the snap, and Illinois defensive lineman Chris Norwell recovered at his own 28.
Illinois coach Ron Zook then opted to bring quarterback Eddie McGee in for his first action of the game, and the Illini (5-3, 3-2) promptly knotted the score at 17 on Jason Reda s 38-yard field goal with 3:47 left in the third quarter.
Once more, Mallett led the Wolverines deep into Illini territory, but he again committed an inauspicious turnover. On third and nine, Mallett was intercepted by Justin Sanders at the 4-yard line with eight seconds left in third quarter.
That did it for Mallett, as Henne re-entered the game for his closing act.
Contact Zach Silka at:email@example.com.